WEST NYACK, N.Y. – New Rochelle sophomore David Stewart was drawn to the water at a young age.
“My mom used to take me swimming to the YMCA,” Stewart recalled. “I almost drowned one day in the deep end. I was fine and my mom knew I was going to be OK, but she signed me up for swimming lessons. I was eight at the time.”
Stewart was a quick learner and when he reached middle school, he realized swimming was his sport. “When I was 12, I started dropping all of my times and my mind I felt I could be a good swimmer,” Stewart said.
Stewart has developed into an excellent swimmer and is now a Section 1 champion after winning the 100-yard butterfly on Wednesday in the Section 1 Boys Swimming and Diving Championships at Felix Festa Middle School.
Winning a sectional title automatically qualified Stewart for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Boys Swimming Championships March 1-2 at Webster High School in Rochester. Stewart will also be swimming in the 200-yard freestyle at the state championships after a second-place finish, as well as the 500-yard freestyle. He qualified for the 500 during the regular season.
Stewart now shares something with New Rochelle boys swimming coach Kip Fiero, who also won the Section 1 100 butterfly title his sophomore year for the Huguenots.
Stewart, who was seeded first in the butterfly, clocked in at 52.51 seconds. Stewart was seeded fifth in the freestyle after his time of 1:47.26 in prelims. However, Stewart covered the 200 freestyle in 1:43.74 in the final, just 13 one-hundreths of a second behind champ Brandon Shields of North Rockland.
“Swimming in lane two for the freestyle nobody was expecting me to come back and possibly have a chance at winning the race,” Stewart said. “I was really surprised I dropped my time by four seconds. I didn’t mind coming in second because I was happy about my time.”
Stewart said he was psyched going into sectionals because he was hoping to continue New Rochelle sports success.
“Our sports programs have been doing very well with the football team winning the state title, our cheerleaders winning nationals and Nick Barbaria winning a sectional wrestling title,” Stewart said. “I wanted to contribute to New Rochelle’s success.”